Welcome to a weekly feature here at Movies With Abe. After spending a number of weeks looking at actors who tend to play the same characters, it’s time to spotlight two films (or three, in this case) with eerily similar plots that came out at roughly the same time. There are surprisingly more examples than might be obvious, and this series will examine the similarities and differences between the two (or three), and how their simultaneous releases affected each other.
Release dates: June 13, 2001 / July 13, 2001 / November 9, 2001
The similarities: All three films featured major heists involving supposedly retired thieves looking for their last big score. They were all heavy on the male stars and featured at least one big-name Oscar winner in a lead role.
The differences: The first was a stylized British film with Ray Winstone in the lead and Ben Kingsley on tap as the violent gangster, the second reunited Robert DeNiro and Marlon Brando (in his last film role) along with con artist Edward Norton, and the third brought together Gene Hackman and Danny DeVito. British director Jonathan Glazer helmed the first, Frank Oz the score, and David Mamet the third.
The releases: None of them did particularly well at the box office. The first film, an independent British release, netted nearly $7 million in the U.S. while the second made just over its $68 million budget back, and the third made $23 million, falling very short of a $39 million budget. The first was the most well-received, earning Ben Kingsley an Oscar nomination for his performance. The other two received decent reviews.
Which one is more likely to be remembered? The only true gem among them was “Sexy Beast,” which is remembered far more for Kingsley’s performance than for anything else, despite the fact that it was a quality English crime thriller. I don’t think “Heist” made much of a mark, though “The Score” is notable for its “Godfather” reunion of sorts and a superb performance, as usual, from Edward Norton.